UK sends first asylum seeker to Rwanda under new scheme

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UK initiates voluntary deportation scheme: First asylum seeker relocated to Rwanda.

LONDON, May 1: The British government, under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s leadership, has intensified efforts to combat illegal migration, prioritizing this agenda as it seeks to regain political ground from the main opposition Labour Party in anticipation of an upcoming general election later this year.

The timing of this announcement is notable, coming just two days ahead of local elections in England and Wales, where the Conservative Party is bracing for significant losses to Labour.

Under a controversial law that has drawn criticism from the United Nations and rights organizations, the UK has established provisions to expel undocumented migrants to Rwanda, where they may settle if their asylum applications are approved. The government intends to commence these expulsions by July.

Recent reports indicate that a man, who had faced asylum rejection in the UK late last year, voluntarily agreed to relocate to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, as part of a separate scheme. He reportedly departed the UK on a commercial flight bound for Kigali, with government sources suggesting that he could receive up to £3,000 ($3,750) in exchange for his departure. However, these reports have not been officially confirmed by the British Home Office.

In response to inquiries, a government spokesperson highlighted the migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda, emphasizing the aim of relocating individuals without immigration status in the UK to a safe third country where they can rebuild their lives.

The Conservative Party anticipates that the plan to deport migrants to Rwanda will bolster its position in public opinion polls, as it faces prospects of electoral setbacks in the near future.

According to government statements, approximately 5,700 migrants are expected to be deported to Rwanda this year as part of the initiative, aimed at dissuading migrant arrivals via small boats from Northern Europe. The Channel crossing has seen a significant influx, with over 57,000 arrivals recorded between January 2022 and June last year, and more than 7,200 people crossing in the first four months of this year alone, marking a historic high for this period.

Rwanda, a nation of 13 million in Africa’s Great Lakes region, is praised for its stability and modern infrastructure. However, rights groups have criticized President Paul Kagame’s administration for alleged suppression of dissent and curtailment of free speech, casting a shadow over the government’s deportation plans.

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